Join the queue
From what I have observed people queue for Jamie's Italian. Whether it's London or downtown Sydney, come dinner time they are lined up at the door. If you know Sydney this is quite an impressive sight, given that any credible casual evening dining option appears to be located in the suburbs and not the CBD (unlike Melbourne where there are so many fabulous city restaurant options it can be difficult to choose).
A recent trip to the Emerald City saw me "up and at 'em" by 4am to catch an early flight and 'tick a lot of boxes' on a jam packed day ... by 6pm I was ready for the LON (land of Nod) ... but instead I mustered up the energy for a quick dinner with Jamie. A long narrow site on Pitt Street no doubt presented more than a design challenge or two, but the space rises to the occasion and then some. In what can only be described as "distinctly Jamie", a full house by 6.30pm and a queue at the door on a chilly Tuesday evening spoke volumes to me. My food was good, the price fair, the atmosphere 'casual', the diners ranged from singles to groups and 'old' (70+) to young, and my waiter (Spanish Sebastian) was just happy to be of service .. there's lots to like about all that. Jamie's Italian 107 Pitt Street Sydney.
Holy Smoked Batboy
Smokey BBQ pork belly served with an 'orchard' salad sounded good to me ... when I quizzed my waiter if I should pick this dish, or if there was another the restaurant was well known for, his reply was "you know the pork belly reminds me of Sundays". My immediate thought, on what was a rather grey and quite nippy London day, was ... ooh that sounds comfy, familiar, family and friendly ... and SOLD! The delightful Richie Davis was my boy wonder waiter at Barbecoa (blurry pic on the right), Jamie Oliver's new restaurant tucked in behind St Paul's Cathedral in The City. Whilst I tried my darndest to snap a pic of the super friendly and knowledgeable Davis he was too fast on his feet to get a clear papparazzi shot (in other words, I failed dismally).
Sporting robata grills, a tandoor oven, fire pits and a Texan smoker ... if you can't stand the heat in the kitchen then I recommend you pull up a chair in the Tom Dixon designed interior and enjoy a fab view of Sr Christopher Wren's architectural wonder. Barbecoa was packed to the char grill with city suits on a Tuesday lunch time ... a fair indication that if there is a recession in the UK then it is apparently being ignored with fabulous abandon. Overall a rather stunning fit out and flamin' good menu, particularly if you're a meat eater. If you're popping into St Paul's to say one then I would be praying this is on your lunch agenda.
P.S. As a side note, when the POD is out pounding the pavements of various cities around the globe looking for retail inspiration sometimes she gets a little foot weary but this was definitely worth the walk to get there. Barbecoa is a joint venture by Jamie Oliver and Adam Perry Lang. The web site tells the story in a lot more detail.
Julia & Jamie
For readers who have never heard of Julia Child (I could easily say err hello?! ... but I have to remember you might not be a foodie) the movie Julie & Julia put JC back on the public agenda. She was my hero when I ditched corporate life at 30 and trecked off to London to attend cooking school. For those not in the know, Julia Child was a formidable woman who revolutionised American cooking (played brilliantly in the movie by Meryl Streep). Half a century later JO (Jamie Oliver) has educated a whole new audience on the joy of cooking, although his influences are Italian rather than French. Either way, both deserve the Nobel Peace Prize for their contribution to humanity (according to me that is). Jamie's Italian, Covent Garden, London.
He’s only 34
Jamie Oliver's Recipease brand has won a Silver Clio for agency Williams Murray Hamm, London. Part cooking school, part food kit, the brand is about breaking food prep and cooking into easy pieces for assembly, hence the model kit framework inspiration.
Jamie also won the prestigious TED prize 2010 in February. Passionate about tackling obesity and health reform through teaching kids about food and how to cook it, this young man has chosen substance over celebrity... which contributes to his celebrity star continuing to rise. A remarkable effort in a few short years. If you haven't seen it, watch his TED talk to see the coffins for obese Americans if nothing else!